Which theremin to get?

Posted: 8/20/2012 4:12:45 PM

Joined: 8/20/2012

I am looking to get a theremin for a present for someone.(a surprise so I can't ask them!)
I was looking atthe B3 theremin delux and the B3 pro theremin. Do you think these might be good options? I see some people talking about using keyboad amps.... she doesn't have one of these, however she does have a Mesa boogie f50 and a small marshall amp( not sure of the name/code) she also has some focal speakers/ monitors... would any of these be suitable for getting a good sound from a theremin?
She has not played one before but is very musical and has shown an interest in them... there may be other things/accessories to make them a worthwhile move any direction would be great!

Would you know of any other theremins I should check out? My instinct and the price have me leaning towards the B3 theremin delux but I am aware also that I know very little about theremins so any advice you have would be greatly appreciated.


Posted: 8/20/2012 4:13:59 PM

Joined: 8/20/2012

I feel that it would mostly be used for recording with a possibility of some live usage down the line... but mainly recording, P



Posted: 8/20/2012 6:04:04 PM

From: portland

Joined: 11/30/2011

A guitar amp wont sound the best, but it will work fine enough, for learning. A bass/keyboard amp/or plugging into a PA, with at least a 12" speaker is more ideal, at some point down the road.

Ive never played the b3s, but some people like them, they are at least playable. The only other real option for a pre built theremin at a reasonable price point, is an moog etherwave standard. What kind of music does she play?


Posted: 8/20/2012 8:03:42 PM
Chainsaw Willie!

From: Just a short walk away from Nike Missile Site S-13/14

Joined: 1/28/2011

The Moog Etherwave Standard is probably the most reccomended unit, or to the best of my recollection reading this type of post in the past.  It is very popular, and will have a better resale value compared to the Burns. 

I have the B3 Deluxe, and no experience (almost wrote "hands on") with the Moog other than listening to recordings and looking at schematics, so I will tell ya what I know about the Burns B3.

I preferred the voice of the B3 Deluxe to the Moog. Again, hearing recordings only, many made with camera microphones posted on Youtube.

The B3 Deluxe has a longer body than the B3 so the volume antenna is further away from the pitch rod.  This is a good thing.   

The B3 Deluxe works well with guitar amps.  The volume knob isn't a volume antenna tuning adjustment.  The volume antenna tuning is fixed.   The volume knob is actually a conventional volume knob that adjusts the volume level of the output of the instrument.  This allows you to adjust the signal output level of the Theremin before the input of the amplifier, and avoid overdriving the input of the amplifier causing clipping distortion.  The Moog and many others have a 1 Volt P-P "line level" output that needs a seperate attenuator to lower the signal.  This is not a big problem for the Moog, it is just a difference from the Burns.

The Burns B3 Deluxe is not expensive.  It works good and sounds good, but it also looks "not expensive".   It is possibly the best of the less-expensive theremins.  After opening it up and seeing how it is built I am impressed at the genius of simplicity of design, old-school point-to-point circuit, and integration of simple chassis/antenna design. Some clever but simple tricks went into designing an affordably-manufacturable working instrument.  Others might think it looks like a 2X4 coated in truck bed liner with a coat-hanger and a walkie-talkie antenna.

Do a thourough site search as this is probably the most commonly re-occuring thread subject.  Also check out this page; http://www.thereminworld.com/Theremin-Models

Posted: 8/21/2012 12:48:10 PM

Joined: 8/20/2012

Thanks for the replies! she plays kind of folk rock, atmospheric stuff. I think it would work really well! The deluxe sound good, thanks for the detailed analysis -  I know it doesn't matter to the sound but the fact that it doesn't look that great and is a present puts me off a little. I know Moog is a good brand and that she would probably to for the quality of a known brand herself and have seen an almost new one for 325 euros... think it could be a good move? I might enquire about the seperate attenuator needed. I assume this should come with the product as it says as new.

What do you think about the moog paired with mesa boogie/ marshall amp or focal speakers?

Posted: 8/21/2012 6:26:34 PM

From: portland

Joined: 11/30/2011

I have an etherwave standard, and when I started, I played through a 10" guitar practice amp, I didnt have any clipping/distortion problems, but the sound sounded a bit muddled and flat, It was fine at first. Picking up a older used keyboard amp, like a peavey kb100 or kb300, eventually, will probably run about 100 euros, and will improve the sound. Ive heard larger bass amps can also work well.

If the there is a mixer for the monitors, that can handle line level inputs, that should work just fine, and is probably the best option. You arent going to hurt the amps, so try it out, and see how they sound. 

The advantage of the moog, is that it has adjustment knobs for the timbre, you can make it sound flute like, to violin-ish, to brassy, depending on what is needed. It also can be upgraded later if she falls in love with it.

Also dont forget, you also need a mic stand to mount the theremin on.

Posted: 8/22/2012 10:47:22 AM

Joined: 8/20/2012

Thanks for all of the advice guys! I'm agreed a deal with a guy on a Moog theremin and will be very informed upon giving it as a present!

Thanks again!


Posted: 8/22/2012 11:09:41 AM

From: Canada

Joined: 8/1/2008

A theremin is a delicate and often finicky piece of electronic equipment. Deciding on which one to buy is a bit like purchasing a car. At some point, it is going to have to be serviced, so make sure that the company you buy from is dependable and accessible. 

There are lots of people over the years who, against the advice of theremin oldtimers like myself, have decided to purchase exotic theremins of one sort or another, made in out-of-the-way places by manufacturers no one has had any experience with, and the instrument has arrived damaged or out of alignment and nobody, other than the maker, knows how to fix it.

That's where the hassles start!

Your choice of theremin should take into consideration the kind of music that is going to be played on it. If it is to be used for avant garde, experimental music, or for spooky SciFi sound FX, then the demands on the instrument may not be as great as they would be if it was to be used for the Fuleihan Concerto for Theremin & Orch.

I would highly recommend an Etherwave build-it-yourself kit from Moog Music. The beginner can learn a lot about how a theremin works by putting the thing together (which is not difficult and can be done in a couple of hours) and upgrades are possible later on if the player wants them. 

Many people base their decision on price. To save a few bucks they buy an instrument that turns out to be nightmare and it ends up in the back of the broom closet.

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